ACP Priorities Take Center Stage at AMA House of Delegates Meeting

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Dec. 21, 2018 (ACP)—Physicians attending the recent American Medical Association House of Delegates Interim Meeting took on a range of issues central to the American College of Physician's advocacy agenda, including firearms safety, better funding for patient-centered medical homes, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment.

The AMA House of Delegates (HoD) passed a resolution calling for better a background-check system for firearms purchases, a ban on 3D-printed firearms and gun violence restraining orders for people arrested or convicted of domestic violence or stalking, all of which are consistent with the ACP's updated position paper on curbing firearms violence, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“As physicians, we all know the terrible public health toll of firearms injuries and deaths,” Dr. Ana María López, ACP's president, told ACP members attending the Internal Medicine Caucus at the HoD meeting. “Improving public health, and doing what we can to avoid preventable injuries, is absolutely the purview of physicians.”

Per AMA practice, all resolutions submitted for consideration at the Interim Meeting will be reviewed by the association's Resolution Committee.

The issue of sexual harassment created a heated discussion at the Interim Meeting after a woman said she had been sexually harassed at an AMA HoD meeting and that her complaints had gone unaddressed.

“This caused great distress and discussion, and the House passed an emergency resolution that seeks to strengthen the existing anti-discrimination policy for investigating and adjudicating claims,” said Dr. Donna Sweet, vice chair of ACP's AMA delegation.

The resolution directs the AMA to “engage independent, outside consultants to examine and make recommendations that could improve the process for addressing any future claims of harassment.”

On patient-centered medical homes, considered the cornerstone of patient-centered high-quality care, AMA delegates noted that creating and sustaining this model requires support from payers, but that hasn't been as robust as was hoped, Sweet said.

“A resolution passed at the meeting urges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assist and advocate that all payers support transforming and maintaining the PCMH model,” she said.

Delegates also passed a resolution that calls for taking a deeper dive into patterns linked to physician and medical student suicide – looking beyond long work hours into other factors that may be a reason, Sweet said.

“We need to work harder to understand physicians' mental health, especially student, resident, and young physician suicide,” she said.

Also at the AMA meeting, held Nov. 8-13 in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington, D.C., the House of Delegates voted to:

  • Work to inform officials about the medical spectrum of gender identity and oppose any efforts to deny individuals' right to determine their stated sex marker or gender identity.
  • Foster diversity among physician leaders in public and population health, which Sweet said dovetails with a paper – “Achieving Gender Equity in Physician Compensation and Career Advancement” – that ACP released last spring. In it, ACP supported efforts to eliminate gender inequities in compensation and called for career advancement opportunities for females in the internal medicine field.
  • Increase awareness and research needed into intimate partner violence against LGBTQ people.
  • Make sure all sexual assault survivors are offered HIV post-exposure prophylaxis.

“It was a very positive meeting in terms of putting patients first and making sure equity is sought after and achieved, and that things like gender discrimination and harassment continue to be discussed and hopefully averted,” Sweet said.

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